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Renewable Energy Atlanta – Home News & Views Atlanta leaders want to run city on 100 percent clean energy…
Then-Councilman Kwanza Hall called for all buildings in the city of Atlanta to run on clean energy by 2025.
Renewable Energy Atlanta
Last April, Atlanta was at the forefront of the environmental revolution in a moment of clarity on the campaign trail. During a Republican forum at a Buckhead restaurant, Kwanza Hall, then an Atlanta city councilman and mayoral candidate, said he wondered if all the talk of melting ice and stranded polar bears was a media ploy. Asked by reporters for an explanation, Hall insisted he was wrong — and also announced plans to introduce legislation that would tie the city to an ambitious goal: All buildings in the city, including the world’s busiest airport, must be based on something instead. Using clean energy. Until 2025, it is shown below. pretend
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Building within city limits ten years later. It is called a moment of clarity or a face of salvation. However, Hall’s council colleagues and Mayor Kasim Reed eventually agreed, and suddenly Atlanta was a leader among Southeast cities.
The promise made for positive headlines, but can a major urban center the size of Atlanta really get off fossil fuels in the next 17 years? Yes, say the experts. But it won’t be easy.
In December, Atlanta was one of 50 U.S. cities to pledge independence. Some smaller cities — including Burlington, Vermont, and a mostly windy city outside Austin — have already reached the goal. But much of our region depends on nearly 200 coal-fired power plants — and the “Dirty South” nickname extends to more than just our music. According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, the six southeastern states would be the seventh-largest carbon emitter in the world if they were a sovereign nation.
However, coal and oil-burning units at plants operated by Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility and sole electricity supplier to metro Atlanta, have closed or are in the process of closing; Others, such as the Yates plant near Newnan, now burn natural gas. Utilities have cut their reliance on coal power in half from 60 percent to 30 percent over the past five years.
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These improvements, along with cleaner gasoline and more efficient modern vehicles, helped the metro area meet the EPA’s new ozone standards for the first time in 2017. 18 years have passed.
Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club Georgia chapter, praised the Reid administration for initiatives such as the Better Buildings Challenge, a federal program that encouraged nearly 600 Atlanta commercial property owners to assess their buildings’ energy and water waste and install such features. in isolation. Windows and doors. The current initiative kept 115,000 tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. In addition, all new city buildings must meet LEED environmental standards. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has made improvements such as installing LED runway lights that burn 50 percent less electricity than their incandescent predecessors. Stephanie Stuckey, a city official who oversees sustainability initiatives, says such initiatives and new solar projects could get Atlanta halfway to its goal.
Conversely, the city is powered by only 6 percent renewables: 3 percent from solar and the rest from Georgia Power’s dam on Lake Sinclair near Milledgeville. Georgia’s mountainous and forested topography is not suitable for wind turbines, and new dams are in the works. Georgia Power is adding more solar to its portfolio. But city officials argue that’s not enough to incentivize utilities to “reclaim” electricity produced by residential rooftop panels for less than retail value.
Terry believes the city’s commitment will encourage innovation. Wind and wave technology can be developed off the coast of Georgia. The city’s Solarize Atlanta program helps property owners purchase solar panels together and reduce installation costs. and R.M. At the Clayton Water Reclamation Facility in northwest Atlanta, small turbines are turned by treated wastewater as it flows into the Chattahoochee River. This process makes the plant more energy efficient – and more resilient to natural or man-made disasters. “When people in Atlanta shower and brush their teeth and flush the toilet,” says Emily Morris, CEO of Emrgy, a local startup pioneering the technology.
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But there is only so much clean energy that cities can capture or generate themselves without major capital investment. Another 30-40 percent, at least according to current projections, could come from energy credits Georgia Power buys, such as wind power from Oklahoma and the Midwest.
Marilyn Brown, a professor of sustainability at Georgia Tech and a former climate researcher, says technological advances will certainly help Atlanta meet its 2035 goal, but running all of the city’s operations clean within seven years would be “ahead of its time.” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms pledged to move the initiative forward, and called on all Atlantans to support making the goal a reality.
The Sierra Club’s Terry is also optimistic about Atlanta’s chances to make its mark — plans he calls “bold” but necessary. “The future is in clean energy; That’s where the jobs and investment go,” says Terry. Atlanta was the cradle of the civil rights movement, he argues. Why not start a green revolution? Cities make big climate promises. Keeping them can be difficult. Getting clean electricity or renewable sources, but that’s the goal. Electricity providers who prioritize economics, not climate change, may clash.
Solar panels cover parked cars at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. The city aims to rely mostly on renewable energy by 2035. Jaime Henry-White/AP Hidden caption
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Solar panels cover parked cars at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. The city aims to rely mostly on renewable energy by 2035.
Two years ago, the city of Atlanta was widely praised when it pledged that all homes, businesses and services would rely heavily on renewable energy for decades to come. It’s part of a wave of cities responding to more extreme floods, heat waves and hurricanes, setting ambitious goals to address climate change even as the Trump administration ignores the issue.
Since then, Atlanta has held public forums and developed a plan to achieve its goal, which was approved by the City Council last March. This includes strengthening energy efficiency, using more renewable energy and purchasing renewable energy credits.
The Sierra Club held the city up as a leader, awarded a scholarship to Bloomberg’s Climate Challenge in American Cities and was endorsed by climate activist Al Gore, who said that if Atlanta can do it, any city can.
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But one thing Atlanta can’t do is choose where its energy comes from. As in most places, the utility — Georgia Power — makes that decision because it’s a monopoly. They are also led by state elected officials, all of whom are Republicans, and none of whom have highlighted climate change as a concern.
Long after the Atlanta City Council voted on a climate plan, it became clear that meeting its lofty goals may be more difficult than expected.
That reality was confirmed in April, when the Georgia Public Service Commission began its first round of hearings on Georgia Power’s latest renewable energy plan. It has been projected for more than 20 years, but it is renewed every three times.
Georgia Power acknowledged that Atlanta could not meet its climate goal without utility support, but was open that it would not take the city’s wishes into account.
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“The way we design the system, we typically don’t specify just one customer,” Jeffrey Grubb, Georgia Power’s director of resource planning, said in a question.
In fact, Georgia Power is moving away from fossil fuels. Its carbon dioxide emissions have more than halved since 2007, largely because the company switched to natural gas because it was cheaper than coal. The company has expanded solar power over the past few years, and is the only utility in the country currently building new zero-carbon nuclear power units. Georgia Power is proposing to close one coal plant, close a coal unit at another, and add more solar power.
However, its long-term planning process has made it clear that the economy is driving all of this, not emissions reduction. Georgia Power says it is bound by state regulations to make decisions in the best interest of its customers, putting cost, safety and reliability first.
“So, isn’t it in the consumer’s best interest to reduce carbon emissions?” asked Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
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I don’t know No, that is, unless government policy puts a price on carbon, making renewable energy the cheaper option, Grubb said.
Ebersbach asked another hypothesis: If the economy changes and coal becomes cheaper than natural gas, will Georgia Power use more coal, thereby increasing greenhouse emissions?
Climate activists with shutdown riot block April hearing of Georgia Public Service Commission. Molly Samuel/WABE Hide caption
Georgia Power’s priorities don’t just seem aligned with Atlanta’s climate goals.
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